Living United…by Victoria Gomez-Morgan
South Florida: home to “snowbirds” during the winter, tourists throughout summer days, eclectic cast of immigrants from all over, and Palm Beach County. Now, the latter may not be something that people write home about on their postcards, but it has its own characteristics that make the VISTA project all the more compelling.
Working with the United Way of Palm Beach County’s Volunteer Center has kept both the Academic Success VISTA – Kelley Locher – and I busy throughout these past two months. Already we’ve had various meetings school administration, been to volunteer fairs at local universities, partook in a few volunteer activities around the county, and have even started setting up our own website for the program. Kelley kicked off the start of the tutoring program at Carver Middle School with a tutor training/orientation and will begin the mentoring program this Wednesday. As for me, I have been to a Title 1 Parent Night as well as a School Advisory Council meeting for Atlantic High School. We are slowly – but surely – getting the program rolling at each school and beginning to be more involved with their community.
In addition to our VISTA project, we have participated in a variety of volunteer events such as the United Way of PBC’s Food Truck Food Drive for Day of Caring or volunteer opportunities with different agencies around the area. I have lived in this county for all my life and each year that has passed something different comes to light about the community here; this year is no different. Due to the disproportionate amount of wealth, one gets to literally see the “other side of the tracks” in any city or town; how crossing one bridge can lead you either to mansions near the beach or your average family on a middle class income.
This is not something that I just realized – I have always know it was there – but the fact that the VISTA project is hosted by this county’s United Way has shown me what has been and is being done to help those in need in this area. Whether it’s through the Community Care Fund which raises money for programs within agencies from donors of all walks of life or providing volunteers for various organizations, the “LIVE UNITED” motto is definitely present in what we do.
Unlike the typical Florida postcards that are all plastered with photos of beaches and Mickey Mouse, this county is another picture entirely. This is not to say that it is unique with its problems, but that they in fact exist – that there are people who live in this county in which not everyday is filled with a day at the beach. This program has served as a constant reminder of that fact, even if I see it everyday throughout my own community. Yet, the project itself has given me hope that a few people can start to make a difference and have others join in to make a positive impact.
Parent & Community Support VISTA
United Way of Palm Beach County